DESA News Vol. 11, No. 3 March 2007

Technical cooperation

Engaging citizens for the achievement of development goals

A capacity-building workshop for the Arab region to be held in Amman from 13 to 15 March

Citizen participation in the policy process matters. It matters to the extent that a number of policymakers have concluded that it is key to achieve the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. While Arab countries have yet to win the battle against social and gender inequality, unemployment and illiteracy to attain the MDGs, they have set out to confront these challenges by engaging in partnerships with civil society organizations, and by putting the accent on sustained economic growth with social equity.

The Division for Public Administration and Development Management will be backing the Arab region in this enterprise through a regional capacity-building workshop on the opportunities and challenges of civic engagement in socio-economic policies taking place from 13 to 15 March 2007 in Amman, in cooperation with the Jordanian Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the National Council for Family Affairs, the UNDP Office in Jordan, and the active participation of ESCWA.

Over 60 representatives from 19 Arab States, including several ministers and high-level officials in charge of planning and socio-economic issues, will be brought together with heads of civil society organizations, academia, and the media to exchange experiences and debate on capacity-building interventions for citizen engagement.

In addition to capacity-building and training, the participants will address methodological and institutional issues of civil society-government relations in connection with MDG-related policy development. The expected outputs include an agreement to follow up actions at the country level, the development of broad outlines for plans of action, and the establishment of an Arab regional citizen engagement network – all geared to creating an enabling environment for achieving the MDGs.

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Training of future government leaders

The International Task Force on Standards of Excellence in Public Administration Education and Training seeks to improve the quality of education for government leadership

“There is a correlation between capable institutes of public administration providing strong training to future government officials and good performance in governments,” says John-Mary Kauzya, Chief of the Governance and Public Administration Branch in the Division for Public Administration and Development Management. So it seems incongruent that schools of public administration have largely been neglected.

DESA and the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration organized a Task Force on Standards of Excellence in Public Administration in 2005 with the overall aim of improving the quality of education and training in public administration. The idea is that better training can have a significant impact on the development of effective leadership and transparent governance throughout the world.

The Task Force recently carried out a survey on approaches to standards of excellence in public administration education, and will meet in Brussels on 17 and 18 March to discuss the results. So far, the survey has been used to draft strategic guidelines to inspire those involved in promoting standards of excellence in public administration and in training and strengthening of capacities of such institutions.

Participants are expected to put forward proposals and recommendations that address the needs of developing countries in particular where the problem is of greater magnitude. A final report with the Task Force recommendations will be submitted to the seventh global forum on reinventing government taking place in Vienna in June.

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First meeting of the Steering Committee of the Network of Innovators in Governance in the Mediterranean Region

The meeting will discuss guidelines for the transfer of innovations in governance

The Steering Committee of the Network of Innovators in Governance in the Mediterranean Region will meet for the first time from 14 to 16 March in Rabat. About forty participants will provide input into the network’s action plan for 2007 and 2008. The InnovMed Programme was launched in 2003 to promote innovation in governance in Northern Africa, the Middle East and Western Balkans. The programme specifically aims to bolster the region’s public institutions in the areas of human resources, technology, and financial management to enable governments to respond more effectively to citizens’ needs.

InnovMed hopes to promote the exchange of experiences in public administration innovation by preparing an inventory of governance programmes in the region, producing national and regional reports, and holding regional meetings. Such exchanges cover both North-South and South-South cooperation. InnovMed also encourages the development of tools and training materials geared to assess the validity of the countries’ practices in public administration, and sponsors pilot projects that assist governments with the implementation of innovative practices.

The InnovMed meeting in Rabat is organized by the Division for Public Administration and Development Management. Participants will include government officials, experts, practitioners, and representatives of international, regional and sub-regional institutions.

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Opportunities of legislative informatics in Africa

ICTs enable citizens’ online access to legal and parliamentary documents

The tremendous potential for parliamentary efficiency embodied in the transition from paper to digital documents and records remains to be exploited by African legislatures. An international conference on the challenges and opportunities of digitization will be held in Abuja from 20 to 22 March to highlight the strategic role that legal informatics can play in legislative processes. More than 200 parliamentarians from 33 countries are expected to attend the meeting, which will stress improvement and automation of the complete life-cycle of legislative documentation. The Division for Public Administration and Development Management is organizing the event in partnership with the National Assembly of Nigeria, under the aegis of the Pan African Parliament and with the support of the Global Centre for ICTs in Parliament.

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Top government auditors to assess the impact of their own work

About 30 heads of supreme audit institutions from developing countries expected to attend a symposium at the UN’s Vienna office

How are national audit institutions performing? What impact are they seeking for their work? The symposium on value and benefits of government audit in a globalized environment, jointly sponsored by DESA and the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions, aims to sensitize audit offices in developing countries on the need to ask themselves these questions and to seek answers. This is the nineteenth interregional symposium on government auditing organized by the two institutions.

The symposium, which will unfold from 28 to 30 March at the UN Office in Vienna, is intended to acquaint heads of supreme audit institutions – whether auditor general, controller general or president of a court of accounts – with current approaches and techniques on the use of key performance indicators in reporting on the value and benefits of government audit processes. This includes those relevant to transparency and their potential to increase the cost-effectiveness and timeliness of audit.

“This exercise is quite innovative,” explains Esther Stern, Interregional Adviser in the Division for Public Administration and Development Management who is responsible for the substantive component of the event on behalf of DESA. “Indeed, the mandate for national audit offices has changed over time, from certifying national accounts to assessing the economy, efficiency, effectiveness and equitability of government activities and expenditures, as well as looking into issues of accountability and governance.”

Agreement on key performance and result indicators for auditing work is expected to feed in a final report, which will be made available in four languages on the UNPAN website.

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UNPAN reaches out to Central America

DESA and ICAP to hold a consultative meeting to expand role of Central American region

DESA and the Central American Public Administration Institute (ICAP) have agreed to cooperate in the implementation of UNPAN in the Central American sub-region. The collaboration will entail creating an electronic virtual network to exchange expertise and share experiences and lessons learned in the areas of public economics, administration and finance, with a view to facilitating capacity-building through the usage of modern technology in Central America and in the Dominican Republic. Specific subject areas to be addressed include: policies and strategies in public sector development, public sector reform, professionalism and ethics in the public sector, legal and regulatory framework, administrative modernization and management innovation, public service financial management, and tax reform, both public and private. DESA and ICAP will meet in San José, Costa Rica from 14 to 16 March to work out the details of the partnership, and begin putting it into action.

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Developing the information society: the role of Parliaments

The Division for Public Administration and Development Management, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Chamber of Deputies of Italy have joined forces to organize an international conference on the policy-making role of Parliaments in the development of the information society, to be held in Rome from 3 to 4 March. The conference will address themes such as policy-making, international cooperation and democracy in the information society, the impact of the information society on the economy, the effectiveness of institutional architectures for governing the information society, as well as the protection of rights and the priorities for the development of the information society. The high-level board of the Global Centre for ICTs in Parliament will hold its inaugural meeting during the conference.

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